“Many curry favor with a ruler; and everyone is the friend of a man who gives gifts.” – Proverbs 19:6
It is a common experience how people tend to flock around a generous person. Certainly everyone is a friend to the philanthropist. Philanthropy is the act of donating money, goods, time, or effort to support a charitable cause, usually over an extended period of time and in regard to a defined objective. In a more fundamental sense, philanthropy may encompass any altruistic activity which is intended to promote good or improve human quality of life. Although philanthropists are often very wealthy people or countries, they may nevertheless perform philanthropic acts without possessing great wealth.
As an international consultant over the last 30 years, I have been a member of many international consulting teams which have attempted to transfer knowledge to Caribbean countries and even further a field through bilateral aid or philanthropy from donor countries (e.g. USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Japan, Malaysia which are all linked to the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). In addition, there has been multilateral aid from international institutions with governmental membership (e.g. World Bank, IADB, EIB, regional development banks, United Nations agencies, and regional groupings like OAS, the European Union and Arab agencies) which conduct all or a significant part of their activities in favour of recipient countries.
Studies have shown that this “Donor Country” model, whereas it may help the recipient country, results in a net benefit to the donor country. This is primarily because the aid is usually tied to the purchase of goods and services from the donor country. Also, representatives and consultants from the donor country are often residents in the recipient countries thus benefiting from the infrastructure in the recipient countries. Imagine the impact on a donor country if its aid programme were to be closed down and the donor country had to provide jobs and facilities for all of its representatives and consultants who were commissioned to all of those recipient countries around the world.
Turkey is a relatively new player in the “Donor Country” model through the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA). TIKA was established in 1992 soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The decision at that time was more of a reflex action by the state than the outcome of a strategic plan. The Turkic and other former Soviet countries faced severe difficulties at the time with the immediate disintegration of the Soviet Union.
It should be noted that Turkey’s per capita income although greater than that of Guyana and Jamaica is certainly less than that of Trinidad & Tobago which is in turn less than that of Barbados. Turkey’s annual technical and development assistance abroad in 2006 was stated to be over US$340 million and it has become an effective donor country with a net benefit to Turkey’s economy.
When you look at the statistics today Turkey is the leading country in its region and has the largest investment and business communities in those countries. It has provided thousands of bureaucrats from those countries with training, and these activities are continuing. Turkey has a significant number of schools in the region and also a significant number of students from the region are offered training in Turkey. Through this synergy, the regional cooperation is progressing on stronger ground.
Turkey has had the vision to take advantage of an opportunity and is now established as a donor country. Surely it is not beyond the capacity of Barbados to do the same. The financial investment in “Barbados as a Donor Country” can be modest later expanding commensurately with the requirements of a strategic plan. The initial recipient countries can be selected Caricom member countries later evolving to selected small states and emerging nations around the world. Through this synergy, the regional cooperation may progress on stronger ground.
The benefits are the development of a vibrant consulting industry and the expansion of its training institutions to cater to capacity building for its Caricom members. Remember people are our most important asset. I travel around the Caricom region and witness how many countries, which are now recipients of international aid, struggle to benefit from the abundance of aid available simply because they do not have the human capital capacity to absorb it. In addition, as the human capital and physical infrastructure is strengthened in Caricom countries, a share of the investment opportunities will be there for the taking by Barbados. Also, the presence of donor country representatives in recipient countries provides a platform for the development of trade, tourism, investment and cultural linkages.
An agency of the Government of Barbados could lead this initiative. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would establish a relationship with its counterparts in the recipient countries to establish the donor/recipient relationship. Representatives of the social partners would then meet with their counterparts in the recipient country to determine the needs of the recipient country. After a period of time, the initial grant investment could result in increasing foreign exchange earnings, branding Barbados, creating fertile ground for foreign direct Investment, developing of a cadre of international consultants, creating jobs, optimally using natural resources and transferring intellectual property. Barbados –
a net beneficiary of such an innovative opportunity.